Customs and Border Protection has started knocking down the administration’s border wall prototypes in the San Diego area, clearing the way for another construction project.
“At this point, we have learned a lot from them, but we don’t necessarily have a purpose or use for them anymore, and we will be bringing them down,” a CBP official said Wednesday.
In April 2017, CBP awarded contracts totaling more than $3 million for eight prototypes to six companies. The agency completed its testing and evaluation in October.
But all eight prototypes remained standing at the site until Wednesday, when workers used large construction equipment to knock over towering concrete. Images from the scene showed massive piles of debris where the proposed designs once stood.
It’s likely you won’t see any of these structures popping up at the border again any time soon.
Congress has prohibited CBP from using the prototype designs in most new projects, requiring officials instead to stick with past designs for now as construction moves forward on barriers funded over the past two years. It is unclear whether these restrictions would apply to construction projects funded by the President’s recent emergency declaration.
But even so, the CBP official said they used the testing and evaluation process to validate previous designs.
“What it did not preclude us from doing, first of all, was learning from those prototypes,” said the CBP official.
Previous CBP construction methods such as internal hardening (inside the steel posts) and anti-climb features were validated by the testing, said the official.
“Those are not things that the [congressional] language necessarily precludes and they’re items that we have been able to add to our tool kit,” added the official.
Some reports have suggested the prototypes didn’t do well in tests conducted by breaching experts, though the results haven’t been made public.
The prototypes are in the same footprint as the San Diego secondary replacement barrier project, which began last week. CBP had the option to leave the prototypes up and build around them, but the agency decided that the steel-bollard wall is “the most effective design in that location.”
The prototypes will be “taken down gradually” and the material will be recycled by being “ground down” and used in a San Diego secondary construction project.
None of the companies that built the prototypes are currently building portions of the wall on the southern border, according to the official.
This story has been updated to reflect that the demolition has begun.